Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade garam masala

Every Thanksgiving on my mom's side of the family, we draw names for Christmas.  You get a Christmas present for whoever's name you draw.  This past Christmas my brother T.J. had my name, and this is what he got me:

ingredients for garam masala
A mortar and pestle, with many different spices

Included was a recipe for homemade garam masala.  The box of goodies sat in my room all winter, while I worked 7 days a week during tax season from January through April.  And once the weather got nice, I kept finding myself outside: at frisbee campMUFA spring league, etc., bla bla bla.  

Excuses aside, this past Thursday -- two weeks before I leave the country for a year -- I finally put the mortar and pestle to good use, making said garam masala.

Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe:
  • 1 cinnamon stick (4", broken down)
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom pods, with husks removed
  • 2 teaspoons black cumin seeds

And the instructions went like this:
Gently heat spices in a sauté pan until you can smell them.

making homemade garam masala

I didn't break down the cinnamon enough in the first batch, as seen above.  It was harder to grind at the end, so for the second batch I was sure to mash up that cinnamon a lot more before putting it in the pan with the other spices.
Remove from heat immediately and let the spices cool for a few minutes. 
Then either grind finely with a mortar and pestle, or grind with a coffee grinder.

making homemade garam masala

Additional ingredients may include bay leaves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anice, nutmeg, etc.

My second batch was definitely finer than the first, but both smelled great!  Anyone have tips on grinding techniques?  I went back and forth between pounding the spices and scraping the pestle against the mortar wall.  T.J. will have to experiment this year, as little does he know, I'm letting him borrow it while I'm gone.  (Yup, not packing it in the suitcase, believe it or not.)
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